Audi 100. The successful secret of Ludwig Kraus

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"It could just happen that after today I no longer work for Auto Union." Ludwig Kraus – co-sold by Daimler Benz to Volkswagen in 1963 – has been working in the utmost secrecy on a new project. The Volkswagen management plans an unannounced visit to Ingolstadt and Kraus gets wind of it. On the day of the visit, the fearful Kraus leads VW boss Heinrich Nordhoff to the development room. Nordhoff is completely stunned not much later. Projekt Audi 100 is being removed from under the canvas. “Grünes Licht für diesen Wagen” is what Kraus hears. That choice does not harm the VW group.

The new Audi 100 seals the fate for Audi in a positive way. In the beginning, the F103 – successor to the DKW F102 – would be the only post-war Audi. This has been successful since 1965 and that fact inspires Kraus to work in the deepest secrecy on a new modern middle class. Kraus sees little point in the existing and aging VW program. That is why he is working on a new model with few resources and advanced computer technology. This lays the foundation for the 100, which will have its public debut in 1968. The Audi 100 was initially available as a four-door sedan and was joined a year later by the two-door sedan. The sedans, internally called F104, also get a coupé brother (F105) and that is another masterpiece from Kraus, which shows how much his Bavarian homeland inspires him.

Mitteldrück engines and the arrival of the Coupé

The Audi 100 debuts with front-wheel drive, four doors and an enlarged Mitteldrück engine. Kraus is still developing this concept in Daimler Benz service. With the takeover of Auto Union by VW, Wolfsburg stipulates that this type of engine and its developer are part of the deal. The power source debuts in the F103, and is increased to a displacement of 100 cc for the 104 (the F1760). The power source gets an underlying camshaft that is driven by a duplex chain. The more potent Audi 100 S also appears on the scene and will receive the same engine with a register carburettor. The Coupé launched in 1970 gets an 1871 cc engine that puts 115 HP to the crankshaft. The new sportsman can certainly be recognized as Audi 100, but the sheet metal in no way corresponds to that of the sedans. What does match from 1971 is the power source. It also finds its way to the new GL, the top model in the sedan area that, among other things, gets a grille with double headlights and is placed above the rather luxurious LS implementation level.

A lot of demand

Meanwhile, there is a lot of demand for the Audi 100 variants. It forces Audi to update the 100 and for the 1974 model year the front is modified, the rear is retouched and the transverse spring disappears in favor of struts with coil springs. In September 1974 the 100 L sees the light of day. The main novelty is the integration of the EA827 overhead camshaft engine and 1588 cc. The EA827 power source will also find its way into many VAG models for decades and in multiple configurations.

On the way to the end

The last modifications take place before 1975. The front disc brakes are placed outwards. The standard steering gear (the 1.6, the Coupé and the GL did have floor gear) is no longer available and is replaced by a poker on the floor. In the meantime, the first signs of the successor 100 C2 appear, which will replace the C1976 in the summer of 1. Furthermore, the first 100 for America will be built for another year longer.

Important in several ways

Audi has become a fully-fledged luxury brand of Volkswagen. The Audi 80 is now available from 1972. The Audi 100 has turned out to be a resounding success. In the beginning, it was intended that 100.000 units would be built. Even Ludwig Kraus – the idiosyncratic and revolutionary engineer – could never have imagined that the counter will stop at 827.474 built units of the model that definitively continued Audi's return.


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  1. The beautiful driving. Walk straight as if you were riding on rails. Rare good. Beautiful cars. VAG's parts policy is a thing. As an example the short hose from the tank pipe to the tank of a VW Sharan. Then absolutely not available without buying a new tank. (Yes!!) If you went to the Ford dealer around the corner and asked for that hose for the Galaxy identical at that point, they would just have it on the rack for 15,- old coins or so(!) . With that piece of hose in hand, bearing both the Ford and VW logos, back to VW for clarification, they looked even more incomprehensible than seeing water burn. Too crazy for words, but it was a fact, although impossible. And so there were more of those little things…

  2. My father had an Audi 100, built in 1971, the basic version with an 1800 cc engine. In terms of consumption, there is nothing wrong with it (10 l/100 km), but it was a wonderful car to drive. We had a Beetle before and the difference was huge.

  3. I had an Audi 70 in the early 72s, that was the first with a mitteldruck engine and what I remember most was the consumption of the car, with Aral petrol I could go about 100 km further with a full tank than with other petrol, I never had that later with other cars, it was no imagination because I always came with Aral I could fill up later, I never knew how that came about.

  4. I had an Audi 100 coupe from 1997 to 1999. I wanted to bring it back into showroom condition.
    Very nice car, but a complete disaster to find parts for (worldwide) (even then)
    Even wear parts such as brake discs/shoes, exhaust and the most essential parts were not available anywhere in the 90s.
    I was a member of the Audi 100 coupe club in Amstelveen in the 90s.
    At that time there were still 120 coupes in the club, now there is nothing left because of the bad VAG parts policy.
    After this Audi it was clear to me, never a VAG product again.

    • Well, maybe you didn't try hard enough or didn't have the right inputs (audi friends), because there was plenty to get, especially in Germany!
      Even in 2022 (I am now restoring) I can draw on a stock that I have created myself.
      I can even make 3 if I want.
      But one thing is certain: there is no more beautiful car than an Audi 1 Coupè S! ! !

      • In 1998 I had already tried through the German Audi 100 coupe club. At that time you could only buy parts from them if you were a member of their club. Their annual club fee was 5000 Mark, in addition to the price of the parts. That was a bridge too far for me for some parts

      • At the end of the 70s I proudly drove a second hand red 2 Coupé S, a great car. Unfortunately I was only able to drive it for 100 years, after that the car got too many defects to continue. It was stored for another year at a farm in Santpoort, after which I had to 'drive' it to the scrapyard in Haarlem (pulled by a friend's car). I still have the center console with instruments in a box at home, in memory of this sporty car. In the photo a facebook message that I posted in July '3.

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